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UK Employers – A Need to Prepare, to Employ/Continue to Employ Workers From EU Countries


Significant Changes ‘Regarding Freedom of Movement’ to the UK

From 1 January 2021, EU free movement rules will no longer apply in the UK. This means that EU citizens will not have an automatic right to come to the UK to live and work.

  • For UK employers who regularly recruit from the EU, this may mean applying for an appropriate sponsor licence to minimise business interruptions.

For the first time in decades, EU citizens without an existing right to live and work in the UK, must apply for appropriate immigration permission before they can take up employment.

This requirement already applies to non-EEA citizens.

Criteria for UK Employers to Offer Sponsored Work

As from 1 January 2021, UK employers will be able to offer sponsored work if:

  • they have an appropriate sponsor licence;
  • the job is on one of the approved lists;
  • the minimum salary threshold is met; and
  • the prospective employee meets the English language requirement

If you require further details about the key requirements which need to be met, please contact us.

Penalties for Non-compliance

If a UK employer hires or continues employing an individual without a legal right to work, they risk receiving a civil penalty of up to £10,000 per illegal worker and/or facing a period of imprisonment.

EU Citizens Living in the UK Pre-January 2021

UK employers will still be able to hire and continue employing EU citizens already living in the UK. However, depending on their current immigration status, this might not be possible beyond 30 June 2021, if these individuals do not make an application under the EU Settlement Scheme to preserve their lawful immigration status in the UK.

Irish citizens are not affected by the end of EU free movement rules and will still be able to freely move to the UK to live and work after 1 January 2021, without applying for immigration permissions.

Action to be Taken by UK Employers

There are two key actions to take:

  • UK employers need to familiarise themselves with the imminent changes and consider applying for a sponsor licence where appropriate.
  • UK employers who currently employ EU citizens in their workforce may wish to consider encouraging these individuals to make an application under the EU Settlement Scheme.

If you have any questions and/or would like tailored advice on any UK immigration matter, please speak to Vincent Chung at:, or to your usual Dixcart contact.

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